What Is Real Progress?

It would be odd if we had a concept of progress, but nothing to correspond to it in reality.

I think progress is something that the human race is supposed to experience, but the mechanics get co-opted by bad things a lot. So, just because something is “progressive” doesn’t mean it helped anyone.

On the other hand, it is possible to trace ways in which things have improved as well as ways in which they have not. And some changes are neither good nor bad in any absolute sense, but simply are specific ways of making human life possible in time and place. What is good, then, is to refrain from either wanton destruction of those structures, or of slavish devotion to their every detail where improvement is possible.

It’s not really “time” that does it, though. Building of structures, whether intentionally or through accretion of trial-and-error benefits – structures of awareness, perception, understanding, and practice – that the next generation receives, protects, purifies, and builds on – this is the mechanics of how this happens. Piety for ancestors, a sense of the sacred, and the cultivation of maturity and freedom is necessary. All of which makes progress hard in our times. (We’re not good at any of that; our more recent ancestors and a lot of our peers are trying to tear down the very mechanics of progress.)

However, I don’t believe the human race will entirely fail. I think there is something in us, some strength that must out, that must win through. It is the hidden presence of Christ in our midst, perhaps.

I think that even in ideologies we cannot accept or disagree with, it is possible to discern human beings trying to fulfill a true developmental task.

Ideally, progress leans on conservation, and conservation preserves the benefits of progress. Either one as an ideology (rather than a useful process) is a problem, and either one as a center of loyalty that excludes the other is insane.

‘Msure I’m not the first one to say these things. 🙂

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